In Blade Runner 2049, so why is Dr. Ana Stelline in a bubble?

To clarify I'm not asking about her supposed weakness that has her in a bubble. I mean if she is the key link to both sides issue, then why is she in a bubble.

We basically have two sides opposing each other in this sci-fi. One side is driven to find the child so that they can make more slaves faster. The other side so that they can have children and become "more than human" and have freedom.

Both sides have placed huge importance on the child. One side to protect her, the other to obtain her and dissect her, or whatever, to figure out how this was possible.

I fail to understand how the side that has her in a bubble, making memories, is moving forward with their (the replicants') plan? She's now 30 years of age and they are no closer to finding out how to have children of their own. Are they just having sex with each other for 30 years hoping to hit the jackpot again? Is she just important to them because she's naturally born... I mean they lead us to believe she's more important than that yet, they're not using her in any way to figure it out. Given, I'm not sure how they could without putting her through some type of distress. But 30 years now and she's still in there and their whole plan of a rebellion is hanging on the hope of having kids some day..

  • 4
    I'm not regular enough around here to know how this is normally handled, but, uh, spoiler alert? Can we edit the first sentence to not give away the identity?
    – JPhi1618
    Oct 10, 2017 at 18:29

5 Answers 5


Having seen this film yesterday I asked myself the same question. The only conclusion that I could reach was that it was a case of hiding her in plain sight. By making her a useful tool for the replicant creators through her memory making abilities she was then of course protected by the very people who were searching for her. At the same time she would have unconsciously, perhaps, have been able to influence how the future panned out. As indeed it turned out with 'Joe's' memories of the wooden horse which eventually led him to discovering the truth. This is all guesswork on my part but it is how I read it . I would be interested in any better informed views of course.

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    Very possible, however she does indicate she's in the bubble due to a compromised immune system. This is entirely plausible if she's the offspring of a human and a Replicant, as there's possibly no real way of knowing how things like an immune system would work if she's a hybrid of the two, given the harsh environment of earth at that point. That and people are born with compromised immune systems all the time.
    – MattD
    Oct 9, 2017 at 15:50
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    Yes. If the compromised immune system is assumed true then the next question is: is this because she's a child of a replicant? I don't think we can go so far as to assume a hybrid though.. as the original Blade Runner puts Deckard's humanity into question at the end with the origami unicorn. And the 2049 again brushes the topic when Deckard is captured.
    – Claustrum
    Oct 10, 2017 at 12:11
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    Do we actually know that she had a compromised immune system. Couldn't this have been used as another ploy to protect her from the world at large and the closer scrutiny that she would have come under if she was 'normal'? Oct 10, 2017 at 18:29

Dr. Ana Stelline was in a bubble to safeguard her while the Replicant underground established an army. While this explanation is a bit lengthy, I believe it does tie together all the salient points.

I fail to understand how the side that has her in a bubble, making memories, is moving forward with their (the replicants') plan?

We know that Deckard and the underground replicants wanted to protect Stelline knowing that even in hiding, they would still be hunted relentlessly. Deckard's part was that he was able to "scramble the records", fabricating evidence that twins were born, a boy and a girl.

When K is examining the DNA, he identifies a genetic anomaly that results in a compromised immune system--a story separately verified by Stelline, saying she was unable leave the planet and could only safely live in the bubble. The other way to look at this, however, is the genetic anomaly was a deliberate ruse to prevent her emigration off-world. That is, ensuring that no matter what happened to her in the orphanage or beyond, she would be marooned on earth.

Dr. Stelline: A compromised immune system. A life of freedom, so long as it’s behind glass.

K: Is that why you’re not off-world?

Dr. Stelline: Yes. My parents had our passes in-pocket, but I took sick.

Considering the squalor she endured in the scrapyard orphanage in San Diego, it is highly unlikely this immuno-compromised condition is real. This containment also had a happy by-product of keeping her insulated from physical danger.

She's now 30 years of age and they are no closer to finding out how to have children of their own. Are they just having sex with each other for 30 years hoping to hit the jackpot again?

The events of Blade Runner: Black Out 2022 chronicle how Replicants came to be prohibited after their assault on the world with an EMP. It is another ten years before the Wallace Corp is permitted to start up new production on Replicants. That means for Stelline's first 10 years of living, the zeitgeist of the world was heavily anti-replicant; not an environment that would be accepting of the notion that replicants are more human than they were given credit for.

So around 2032 marks the beginning of new Replicants (Nexus 8s under Wallace Corp), in which the underground Replicants are still unlikely to provide a real, physical (and existential) threat. There's a single manufacturer again and the replicants are ridiculously obedient. But as we've seen from the original BR as well as BR2049, believable memories seem to be the root causes of all the chaos. This would explain why (for the viewers' benefit) Stelline tells K that implanting real memories into replicants is illegal.

  • Rachel--and her memories of Tyrell's niece (believed to be her own)--drives her to confront Deckard in his home and then run away.
  • K (or Joe) believing to be the boy with the horse lies to Joshi about retiring the Replicant child.

I mean they lead us to believe she's more important than that, yet, they're not using her in any way to figure it out.

So ultimately, the underground resistance was just biding their time waiting for the best opportunity to show the world that they are as (or more) human than humans, and that they would be prepared and ready to fight/defend Stelline as their figurehead when they out her as a Replicant offspring.

Freysa: If a baby can come from one of us, we are our own masters. "More human than humans". A revolution is coming. And we’re building an army. I want to free our people. If you want to be free, join us. Deckard, Sapper, you, me; our lives mean nothing next to a storm that’s coming. [...] When the time comes, I will show her to the world. And she will lead our army.

In the meantime, all time "lost" in the interim just had the bonus of more Replicants being indoctrinated with Stelline's foreign-but-authentic memories. Presumably, this would be beneficial to the resistance in that they might be more sympathetic to the resistance's cause, as we saw in K. The technology for replicants to reproduce is limited to just Rachel, so they weren't hoping to just 'hit the jackpot'.

A question that doesn't seem to have good answer, however, is how the first Replicant offspring (some random kid from an orphanage) attained the skills and foot-in-the-door to become the world's foremost memory creator for Wallace Corp.

  • Great points. I agree it's an enormous plot leap. It seems to be a pretty elite position and one would wonder how she's qualified or was able to show she has the talent for it. How does the natural born Messiah go from child slave with the wooden horse to the one whom ironically has the job of programming memories into replicants so they are more compliant as slaves? Which is uncomfortable to analyze, as it leads to more questions about the integrity of the story. Not to mention it insinuates that their rebellion has more insiders or moles in place to be able to make it happen.
    – Claustrum
    Oct 10, 2017 at 12:05
  • explain what is EMP? Oct 12, 2017 at 8:49
  • Electromagnetic Pulse, part of the events from Blade Runner Blackout 2022.
    – hexparrot
    Oct 12, 2017 at 19:30
  • The one problem with your analysis is assuming that the (supposed) "genetic defect" that K notes in the DNA records has anything to do with the (supposed) compromised immune system of Ana. We don't know what Galations Syndrome is supposed to be, and no description is made in the film.
    – Daniel
    Feb 18, 2018 at 22:31
  • Furthermore, if someone was faking DNA data and faking deaths to cover their tracks, it wouldn't make sense to give the deceased girl the actual health problem as the real girl - that would just make finding her easier. Finally, I don't think "Galations Syndrome" is a "genetic defect" - it is just a listed cause of death. I believe they just used some random boy to overwrite Ana's real DNA, and he wasn't noted as having the same "defect".
    – Daniel
    Feb 18, 2018 at 22:31

I don't believe that the replicants actually wanted to do something with her. They don't have the kind of research capability Wallace does to be able to dissect and gain information on how to reproduce. They just wanted to keep her alive because she is a symbol that the replicants are special and more than just machines, and therefore is a useful figure for their rebellion - Bautista's character is a member of their rebellion because he has 'seen a miracle' as he remarked at the start of the film - the miracle being her birth.

  • You may be right. I'll have to check when I get the chance to see it again. Most of the information we have available to make a call, is with the discussion with K and the replicant with no eye. When she reveals K isn't the natural born and discusses the rebellion.
    – Claustrum
    Oct 10, 2017 at 12:06
  • This is what I got from the movie, too. Her existence is important to the group that is hiding her because the ability to create and nurture life makes all replicants more than just manufactured things. It basically makes them human, they feel. Her existing is enough for them. The bubble is just a way to have her exist where she won't be hunted, but people can't interact with her enough to figure out what she is/represents. I don't think there's actually a rebellion, per se. Nov 17, 2017 at 14:09
  • I agree with this view. She doesn't look like having battle power or leadership or intelligence, anything what so ever useful for fighting. She is fragile. Her ability is useless to the replicant regime to gain their power. It's her existence important to them. Her existence implies that they are like humans. They can love and they can give off-spring. She is the proof.
    – Kevin
    Jul 14, 2020 at 3:41

It's meant to protect her, but not from pathogens, but from contact and interaction, and it goes two ways.

If no one can touch, interact and examine her close up, then no one is going to figure out that she's the child of a replicant. No one will have significant memories of extensive interactions with her where certain memories, accounts or idiosyncrasies would lead people searching for her to find her.

On the other hand, how do you keep a "human" from seeking out those same kind of contacts and interactions on their own? By making them think that it will kill them, and that they can't.


Nobody knows that she is the key character. She was slipped into the pool of slave children and from there she was eventually sold/adopted; even the slaver no longer has her records. The villains want to find her, the underground wants to prevent the villains from finding her (while having no idea who exactly who they're looking for). The underground only know that K is on the trail and believe he can help their cause.

It's not until K realizes that it must be Ana that any character in the movie knows her real identity. He comes to this conclusion when he realizes that the memory is real but not his. Ana told him the memory was a real one, the surest way for her to know it's real is because it's her memory. She also was moved to tears viewing this memory; someone who designs memories would probably not be too emotional viewing another memory to judge its authenticity, unless it has a personal connection to them - again, in this case because it's hers.

As for being in the "bubble" - she was identified as having an immune deficiency. Maybe she does, or maybe it's a misdiagnosis because of her unique physiology.

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